United Launch Alliance (ULA) is gearing up to launch its mightiest candle in the fleet of rockets: the Delta IV Heavy. The behemoth is set to blast off on Thursday (Aug. 27) at 2:12 a.m. EDT (0612 GMT), carrying with it a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, and you can watch all the fiery action live.
The eight-and-a-half-hour-long countdown will kick off tonight (Aug. 26) at 5:42 p.m. EDT (2142 GMT) and include two planned 15-minute holds. Launch coverage will begin about 20 minutes prior to liftoff, and you can watch the launch live here on Space.com or via ULA.
According to ULA, the mission’s launch window opens at 1:50 a.m. EDT (0550 GMT) and extends to 6:25 a.m. EDT (1025 GMT), with the company targeting a liftoff of 2:12 a.m. EDT (0612 GMT). There may be other opportunities within the period, but officials have not yet disclosed those.
5 NRO satellites
All five of the remaining Delta IV Heavy missions will launch NRO satellites. Three will launch from the Cape, including this one, and two will launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Many NRO payloads are extremely heavy and bulky, akin to launching a school bus, and are designed to be installed on top of their rockets in a vertical configuration rather than a horizontal one. For that reason, military officials say that the Delta IV Heavy is the only launcher on the market today that can accommodate their needs.